“Photographic” Memory: The Joys of Embodied Mindfulness


 “Photographic” Memory: The Joys of Embodied Mindfulness

by Renee Groenemann

Have you ever wished you had a photographic memory? I know I certainly have!

A friend posted a picture on Facebook today of her watching her baby sleeping. I remember those days. There are so many times I just want to lock that moment in my memory: that first look at my newborn child as I felt his wriggly little body being placed in my arms, that first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, the heart-filled moment I witness good in the world. Often times, I try to make it happen. I just pause and think, “I want to remember this forever!” and I try to will that photographic memory into existence.

For me, the visual pictures have faded, but the memories have not. What I didn’t realize (until this lovely Facebook reminder) is that those memories endure because I actively engage in mindful presence beyond any picture that can be frozen in space and time. I soften. I take in the scene visually. I breathe in the experience. I notice how I feel in the moment and I magnify it by being fully present breath after breath after breath. I sense cell after cell, from fingertip to kneecap to the hair on my head, absorb the scene and light up with the experience. As I do this, my body actively records every sight, every sound, every muscle memory: all creating a complex web that activates memory networks and interlinks them to similar events, cross-referencing them in triplicate, so that I never EVER forget.

We are innately wired to experience and record our worlds in a detail that’s wildly beyond our imagination. We can use mindfulness to purposely create lasting memories. Likewise, we can engage old memories that have faded by pulling them up in this multidimensional manner (sight, sound, smell, taste, and feeling via emotion and sensation). It’s like we’ve backed up a computer system on disk, on hard drive, on thumb drive, and on external drive—we’re sure to get the file we need if we call all hands on deck.

As it turns out, I have something better than photographic memory, and so do you.

Embodied mindfulness is more than just relaxation–it’s tapping into our full, by-design potential. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy groups and private sessions access that network of memories (the good or the bad) by engaging the full bodymind and even giving us the opportunity to re-experience and rewire. We already know what we need to create change in our lives and to heal. It’s in us. As we befriend the body and grow self-awareness, we accept what is and can discern and make new choices for ourselves. We remember and recover in potent ways because we access all of those backup systems.

As we recognize the truth of our experience, we can move forward to a more alive future, realizing more moments of that very flow that we felt the first time we rode that bike successfully down that big hill. If you let yourself go there, can you remember it now? Can you close your eyes and picture the scene? Do you remember who was around? Can you feel the breeze? Remember the grip on the handlebars? Feel each righted wobble? Can you feel the crazy mix of emotions coursing through your body? What else do you notice? What’s happening now?